Strengths and Shortcomings of Current Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) Assessment Models

Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) functional assessments are used in the Section 404 permitting process to evaluate wetland impacts associated with different alternatives and to develop proposed compensatory mitigation. HGM regional guidebooks were developed for regulatory personnel use; however, functional assessments are often performed by permit applicants. Current HGM guidebooks are not tailored to the permit application process. This paper identifies the strengths and shortcomings of current HGM assessment models applicable to Virginia riverine wetlands, and offers recommendations to make HGM guidebooks more useful during the permit application process. Existing HGM methodologies applicable to Virginia riverine wetlands are reviewed and specific rapid assessment protocols are suggested. By incorporating and refining existing rapid assessment techniques, and developing new rapid assessment techniques, HGM guidebooks can be tailored for the permit application process.